Saturday, April 28, 2012

Why a talking lamb is more impressive than a high Klout score

I've always known that I am not trendy, but apparently there are a lot of other people who are also not trendy, because I've seen two mentions of Klout in the last two days.

On Friday afternoon, Kimberly Reynolds shared a Mashable story about Tom Scott's new site Klouchebag. Yes, that's a combination of the words "Klout" and "douchebag." Scott's site looks at the kinds of things that you tweet and assigns a Klouchebag score. Of course I got my own score:

Klouchebag score for @empoprises: 38, or 'a bit of a prat'.

Be sure to check your own.

The other Klout-related item that I've seen comes from a Loren Feldman share of a Jeremiah Owyang post. It's fair to say that Feldman does not necessarily agree with Owyang's view.

Owyang starts with the premise that the facial recognition algorithms that are being incorporated into Google and Facebook can be used to bring up other information that is associated with the person that is identified. As some of you know, I work in biometrics, and the available facial recognition algorithms have become appreciably better over the years - when used with a small database size, such as a list of Facebook friends, there is a good chance that you can identify someone, despite all of the background noise in the pictures.

(Biometric aside: When your mugshot - whoops, I mean facial image - is taken for identification purposes, you usually face forward, refrain from smiling, and stand in front of an 18% gray backdrop. This is usually not the case for your typical Facebook party picture, unless you're arrested a lot.)

I'll buy that it's likely that your face will be used as a starting point to get information about you. But what information?

According to Owyang:

Logic tells us that new mobile applications will emerge that will allow digital content about us, in fact, we should expect apps to emerge that instantly allow us to tell one’s Twitter follower count, Klout score, and Facebook fans.

So Owyang would have us believe that the nearly 1 billion people in Facebook will use this technology to find a stranger's...KLOUT SCORE?

Unfortunately, Owyang found an example of someone who has a higher regard for the almighty Klout score than Tom Scott. Wired:

Last spring Sam Fiorella was recruited for a VP position at a large Toronto marketing agency. With 15 years of experience consulting for major brands like AOL, Ford, and Kraft, Fiorella felt confident in his qualifications. But midway through the interview, he was caught off guard when his interviewer asked him for his Klout score. Fiorella hesitated awkwardly before confessing that he had no idea what a Klout score was.

The interviewer pulled up the web page for—a service that purports to measure users’ online influence on a scale from 1 to 100—and angled the monitor so that Fiorella could see the humbling result for himself: His score was 34. “He cut the interview short pretty soon after that,” Fiorella says. Later he learned that he’d been eliminated as a candidate specifically because his Klout score was too low. “They hired a guy whose score was 67.”

Yes, Fiorella is in marketing, and you could claim that Fiorella needs to market himself. But a human resources department spending more time looking at a Klout score than at a list of accomplishments at AOL, Ford, and Kraft? That sounds like an HR department that doesn't want to do its homework. Erik Kain of Forbes agrees:

I can understand on one level why a marketing firm might want someone with social media influence, but simply having a decent Klout score doesn’t mean you’re any good at marketing. I can pretty much guarantee that Fiorella’s 15 years of marketing experience make him a better candidate than me, for instance, with my zero years of marketing experience.

And yet, my Klout score tends to hover around 64, a full 30 points above Fiorella’s. That hardly makes me a better marketing employee than him, however, though it does mean that I’ve done passably well when it comes to marketing myself on social media.

People get caught up in someone's Klout score of Alexa ranking or Wonderlic score or SAT score or whatever. Why? Because it's a single number, and it supposedly easy to use as a pass-fail item. But humans are more complex than that, and can't be evaluted based upon a single item.

But you can evaluate lambs based upon a single item. And at the end of the day, that's what is important. I found another share - this one from Richard Walker - of a YouTube video of a lamb who says "yeah."

Now this lamb may have a Klout score of 0. And this lamb may have a Wonderlic score of 0. But this lamb provides more wisdom than Tom Scott and Loren Feldman and Jeremiah Owyang and myself combined.

P.S. Actually, I was wrong in one thing. Tom Scott has as much wisdom as the lamb. I was intrigued about the guy who created Klouchebag - I had never heard of him (perhaps his Klout score isn't that high) - and I ended up reading this essay that Scott wrote. It begins as follows:

I'm not a particularly good programmer. I never studied computer science at school or university, the same way Charles never studied electronics and Colin never studied mechanical engineering. My degree's in linguistics - and if I'm honest, I didn't really go to university to study.

I'm competent, don't get me wrong: but I didn't learn the academic theory of programming. I couldn't tell you what a pointer does; I can't solve a memory leak other than by rebooting; and I couldn't write an efficient sort algorithm if my life depended on it. I can't code in any variant of C, and I don't think I've ever chosen one compiler over another.

What I can do is make things.

And that's important: there are plenty of computer science graduates who are fully versed in theory but completely unable to actually make things. That's fine if they're angling for certain industry jobs - but I never wanted to work with computers for a living. Programming was a means to an end: I had an idea; I wanted to make it; therefore I had to learn to code.

Read the rest here.

What can I say? "Yeah."
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